So I did a little number crunchin’.
Within a 10 mile radius of our church, there are 185,476 people. Of those people, 61.6% claim to be affiliated with some kind of Christian denomination. So there are supposedly 114,253 Christians within a 10 mile radius of our church. We live in rural southwest Ohio. Anybody from around here knows that can’t possibly be the case. It’s not even close.
This is what it means to live in a “post-Christian” society. We’ve got an entire generation of people that assume they are Christians not because of their profession of Christ as Lord and Savior, but because they mentally assent to the Christian values and norms systemic to the culture that they’ve grown up immersed in.
Because of the rise of Christendom, Christian morality became divorced from the Christian Gospel, and lifestyle demands were placed on people that were impossible to fulfill apart from actually being regenerated by the Holy Spirit. This means that we have produced more hypocrites than Christians. And the world sees this too.
Out of the 185,476 people within the 10 mile radius of FBCnl, 59.6% of them were not involved in a religious congregation or community. Of those not involved, the three biggest reasons given for why they weren’t involved were:
“I don’t trust religious leaders” (60.1%)
“Religion is too focused on money” (64.2%)
“Religious people are too judgmental” (66.7%)
The majority of people are not skipping out on church because of the music style (38.8%) or because they’ve not been invited (20.7%). The biggest reasons why people are ditching the church are relational not functional. They see a disconnect between what the church says they believe and how they actually behave and they want no part of it. What a shame!
If we are going to be attractive to the world, then we must look different than the world. Authenticity and “realness” are constantly cited by the unchurched as the most sought after qualities they are looking for in a church. Second to authenticity is the feeling that the church they are a part of is actually making a difference in the world. But why would people who want to make an authentic difference in the world give themselves to an institution that makes no authentic difference in the lives of its adherents? Our beliefs must start aligning with our actions. We have to get more serious about regenerate church membership, church discipline, and the centrality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have to be people that align our lives around our faith rather than the other way around.
If we are not allowing the Gospel to change us but expecting it to change everyone else, then the world will see that kind of message as exactly what it is: a myth that’s not worth giving their lives to. Until we begin to own our faith for ourselves and start to live as though sin actually is evil, Christ actually has rescued us, and the Gospel actually does save, then the church will not flourish and we are wasting our time.
Sources: US Census Bureau, Synergos Technologies, Inc., Experian, DecisionInsite/MissionInsite